He is a successful actor, filmmaker and has tried hands in singing as well. But besides rubbing shoulders with the bigwigs of tinsel town, Farhan Akhtar is also an activist. He is fiery, opinionated and outspoken, never shying away on raising his voice on various social issues. As he turns 43 today, let us throw some light on the other side of the filmmaker who is a poet as well.
Crusader for women’s rights: We have seen him play a reluctant father in Shaadi Ke Side Effects. But in real life, Akhtar runs an initiative MARD (Men Against Rape and Discrimination) which aims at raising social awareness about crimes against women. The organisation indulges in conversations with male teens on the issues related to gender equality. Last year, he penned an emotional open letter to his daughter discussing sexual assault and rape. Besides this, he is the United Nations Women’s first male ambassador and has worked with an NGO named Magic Bus which helps various families send their daughters to school.
Voice against intolerance: Farhan has been quite vocal about the growing intolerance in the country. In 2015, when Shah Rukh Khan and Aamir Khan spoke about the attempts being made to curb freedom of expression, Akhtar rose up in their support. “I feel that is bit harsh on people, who have the right to speak their minds. You have to engage with them and find out why they are saying it. If they are wrong, you can correct them but in a way that is dignified for everyone,” he had told PTI. Interestingly, on Sunday, his father and former MP Javed Akhtar too had spoken on the same issue. The veteran lyricist said any criticism of PM Narendra Modi’s policies is perceived as an anti-national act. At times when it is quite easy to accusing anyone of being indulged in anti-national activities, Farhan’s tough stance deserves an applause.
Refusal to bow down to hooliganism: Last year, Karan Johar had a tough time getting his directorial venture Ae Dil Hai Mushkil make way to the theatres. Thanks to Raj Thackeray-led Maharashtra Navnirman Sena’s hyper-nationalism, Johar had to promise a donation of Rs 5 crore to the Army Welfare Fund. However, Akhtar, who is a co-producer of Shah Rukh Khan starrer Raees also featuring Pakistani actor Mahira Khan, refused to bow before the MNS diktat. While Shah Rukh did meet Thackeray and assured him that Mahira would not be a part of the promotions, Akhtar did not budge.
Many happy returns of the day, Farhan. Not only Bollywood, but the entire film fraternity should look up to you for inspiration.